Wild Times: Does your rifle bite? Part two
All large caliber rifles have one thing in common. They all will pound you with the recoil.
Before we go any further, you need to know that all firearms recoil when fired. As the weight of the bullet and the velocity of the bullet goes up the scale, the amount of recoil will increase. So, it just stands to reason that the larger caliber rifles will bark and bite a little harder.
To combat this recoil issue of larger calibers muzzle, brakes and suppressors have been developed and attached to the end of rifle and pistol barrels. A muzzle brake is a tubular piece similar to a barrel that is threaded onto the end of a barrel. The brake has ports or openings on the sides of the barrel. The ports allow the gases from the propellants of the firing of the cartridge to escape out to the side of the barrel rather than out the end of the barrel.
The idea behind the brake is that the escaping of the gases out to the side rather than the end of the barrel will reduce the recoil substantially. Do they work? Yes, they do. There is a drawback to using a muzzle brake, though. The muzzle blast or report from the firing of the gun is brutal.
Several years back, I purchased a 7mm Weatherby Magnum. It had a muzzle brake on the end of the barrel. I had never used one before, but I was about to get educated. I was in the process of sighting the rifle in for an elk hunt in Colorado. I had my ear protection on and was getting along fine. At some point I took my headset off to do something and forgot to put it back on.
I popped a shell into the rifle and fired away. I cannot even begin to describe to you the blast and noise level that hit my left ear. It literally made me drop to one knee. I felt like I had been hit with a club up the side of my head. The pain was indescribable. I immediately screwed the brake off of the end of the barrel. I have never put it back on.
The redirection of those gases almost blew my eardrum out! That was my only and my last experience with a muzzle brake. I have been around several shooters over the years who have used them, and I always take cover before they pull the trigger! The side blast from those rifles is something to behold.
My professional hunter (PH) in Africa hunts with a lot of people. He has had a lot of experience with shooters and rifles. The first question he asked me when I was bringing my own rifle to hunt in Africa was if the rifle had a muzzle brake. When I told him it didn’t, he expressed his gratitude. He explained that he always has his binoculars trained on the animal to see where the bullet strikes and he can’t cover his ears so he always gets a good blast from the shot. He described it as a brutal experience, and he totally despises the brakes.
The other option for reducing recoil is to use a suppressor. A suppressor is a tube with a series of partitions that trap the gases from the propellants and slowly releases them out into the air. The added advantage to the suppressor is that it also drastically reduces the noise that comes from the blast.
What is not to like about a suppressor? A suppressor is the best of both worlds, and after seeing and hearing them in action I am sold on them. The only problem with a suppressor is that you have to have a permit to own one, and it is a long process to get it done. If there is a drawback to a suppressor, it would be that it adds some length to your rifle barrel. A suppressor can add up to eight to 10 inches of extra length, which in my opinion makes your rifle a little more cumbersome to move around.
Is it worth it? Absolutely! In my opinion, a suppressor is definitely the way to go to reduce recoil and noise with larger caliber rifles. If you can handle rifle recoil, good for you. If you cannot, then consider a muzzle brake or a suppressor.